Title: Vicious

Author: V.E. Schwab

Series: Villains, #1

Publisher: Titan Books

Release Date: January 10th 2014


Five Stars

A masterful tale of ambition, jealousy, desire, and superpowers. Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the arch-nemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.

– Blurb courtesy of

My Thoughts On…

…The Plot

“Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.”

After reading and loving all of V.E. Schwab’s other books Vicious went straight onto my to-read list, purely based on the author herself. It took me a while to get around to it but honestly it was worth the wait. I had high expectations for Vicious and it more than lived up to them. V.E. Schwab has created a group of characters who’s motivations may not be black and white, but who are all so powerfully written that you can understand what drives them to the lengths they go in this story.

Ten years ago Eli and Victor were roommates and best friends, drawn together like magnets, each seeing something in the other, cunning, ambition, they recognized in themselves. But when Eli decides to write his thesis on EO’s, ExtraOrdinaries, people with strange powers and what causes them, it changes everything in ways both Eli and Victor don’t then realize. When Eli makes the connection between EO’s and near death experiences Victor is the one who suggests they experiment with the theory, and become EO’s themselves.

“There are no good men in this game,” said Mitch.
But Sydney didn’t care about good. She wasn’t sure she believed in it. “I’m not afraid of Victor.”
“I know.” He sounded sad when he said it.

Ten years later Victor has escaped from prison and is determined to hunt Eli down, determined to make him suffer the way Victor has. Together with Mitch his prison cell mate, and Sydney, another EO, a girl with extraordinary powers, Victor slowly puts the pieces of his plan into place. Meanwhile Eli hunts down and kills every EO he can find, believing them to be an abomination and himself on a mission from God.

Vicious jumps through time; we see both the start of their journey ten years ago to become EO’s and what happened which drove them apart, as well as what they are both moving towards in the present day. We also get glimpses into the pasts of the other characters; Sydney, Serena, and Mitch. The story is carefully woven so we can understand what events unfolded in each of their pasts which brought them to the present day and the showdown between Victor and Eli, with Sydney and Mitch on one side and Serena on the other.

“Imagine a story, not of good against evil, but of need against need against need, where everyone is at cross-purposes and everyone is to blame.” The whole time I was reading Vicious I thought of this quote. I think it describes, a lot better than I ever could, what this book is actually about. Neither Victor or Eli could be described as the good guys, but then again neither could they really be described as the bad guys, though they both do horrible things in the name of reaching their goal. Vicious is a book full of grey characters; everyone has their own motivations driving them but at the same time they have been developed to allow us to see their flaws and faults as well. We see their humanity which makes is a little easier to understand, even in just a small way, where they’re coming from.

…The Characters

“Victor Vale was not a fucking sidekick.”

Victor, ten years ago, seemed to be more of a shadow to Eli’s bright light. He seemed to resent Eli at times and it only becomes worse when Eli successfully came back as an EO after his first NDE and Victor didn’t. The ten years he spent in prison gave Victor a lot of time to master his EO ability, and a lot of time to plan his revenge as well. He has become a hard person, a lot harder than he ever was, but in the end he still cares about people; about Sydney who he finds injured on the side of the road, about Mitch, and maybe even a little about Eli as well.

“You aren’t some avenging angel, Eli,” he said. “You’re not blessed, or divine, or burdened. You’re a science experiment.”

Eli was always the more reluctant of the two to experiment with the near death experiences they did. He tries to pull Victor away when he feels he’s getting out of control but after coming back to life Eli changes. He feels like something is missing, he fears he lost part of his soul and his belief in God is what starts to drive him. He falls deeper into his religion like it’s a security blanket and starts doing what he does to right what he did wrong, bringing the EO’s out from the shadows with his thesis. Eli is wholehearted in his belief that EO’s are unnatural.

“He and Eli were bonded, by blood and death and science. They were alike, more so now than ever. And he had missed Eli. He wanted to see him. And he wanted to see him suffer. He wanted to see the look in Eli’s eyes when he lit them up with pain. He wanted his attention.”

Even though they are only really together through their flashbacks I loved the relationship between Eli and Victor. In a normal world, where the sides are divided into good and bad, you would think with the powers they have that Eli is the good guy, the hero, and Victor the bad guy, the villain. However it doesn’t work like that. Both characters are led by their own decisions, they have their own goals and both of them do horrible things in the name of them.

The secondary characters were just as amazing and well-developed. Sydney, who is only twelve and who finds herself hunted down by her own sister because of her ability. Mitch, who is a lot more than he seems and who has stood firm by Victor’s side even before the two escaped from prison. Serena, who uses her own gift for and against Eli. Each of them had their pasts fleshed out and their own motivations with drew them to either Victor’s or Eli’s side in this final showdown between the two.

…The Setting

“If he’d had to judge based on the two of them, then ExtraOrdinaries were damaged, to say the least. But these words people threw around – humans, monsters, heroes, villains – to Victor it was all just a matter of semantics.”

I will be the first to tell people that I am not scientifically minded; so there is a fair bit of the explanation behind the EO’s and their abilities which went over my head. However, for the most part, I enjoyed seeing how the process worked; through Eli’s thesis, his and Victor’s near death experiences, and through the other EO’s we meet through the story. What I really liked was how it wasn’t just the NDE that counted but also who the person is and what their last thoughts were as they died which shaped what ability they came back with. The world itself felt like a mixture of Sin City and Captain America: Civil War; it’s dark, it’s gritty, it’s grey verses grey in a battle where we’re not completely sure which side we should be rooting for.

Vicious is darker than I thought it would be, and complex in more ways than I expected. So much of this story was character driven but I really enjoyed that aspect as I felt it gave me much more of an insight into both Victor and Eli, and it allowed me to see how the actions they took ten years ago led them down the path they’re on in the present day.

What did you think of Vicious? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.

40 thoughts on “Vicious

    1. You NEED to read this book ASAP! I will admit I was the same though, I had it on my to-read list for ages before I finally picked it up but now I can’t believe I didn’t start it sooner! It’s an amazing book, I think you’ll seriously love it especially if you already think V.E. Schwab is amazing! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  1. The UK editions of her books are sooo gorgeous! I wish we had them here. </3 Also, great review. THis is on my TBR, and I hope to eventually get to it. xD

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review!! I also loved this book, it’s one of my favorites. I love how different it is from other books I have read. The characters, oh those characters!! I loved them all and I like how Schwab had me rooting for one character and then I made the switch to another character. It was just great!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Yeah I don’t think my review can fully explain how much I loved this book too, definitely one of my favourites now! 😀
      God the characters were amazing. I was pretty much rooting for Victor for most of it though, at the beginning I didn’t think he was going to turn out to be an evil person. I was surprised where Eli’s story went though! I did not see that coming! 🙂


  3. This is such a great review, Beth! I’m 100% going to read this after I’m done with the Shades of Magic series. I really like that this book centers around morally ambiguous characters and their history. That part in particular really interests me. Ahh, darn it Beth you’ve made me want to read all of V.E. Schwab’s books when I’m supposed to be researching 😛 I blame your awesome reviews.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Fatima, I’m glad you liked my review so much it made you add this book to your to-read list! 😀
      (Little bit of a side note but I am so excited for you to read the Shades of Magic series, you have to let me know what you think when you finish each book!)
      There was so much to love about this book but the development of the characters and their grey morals was just brilliant. I wasn’t sure who I should be rooting for to win because I would say either Victor nor Eli were wholly good or bad. It was brilliantly written.
      Yes, read all of V.E. Schwab’s books, sorry not sorry! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Beth. BETHHH. I’m still so giddy over this book and I legit couldn’t stop thinking about it for hours afterwards. I LOVED the characters — definitely a winning combination of cast right there and then. It reminds me so much of X-Men (which I loved), and the dynamics between Eli/Victor is so much like Charles/Erik, haha.

    I love it. Have you read the short story that’s kind of a prequel? The one called Warm Up?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my god YES! I think if I could I’d go back and read this book all over again because it was just so amazing; V.E. Schwab manages to create the best characters, they’re all so well developed and fleshed out. I completely didn’t make the Charles/Erik connection between Victor and Eli but now you’ve mentioned it it’s all I can see! 🙂
      How did I not know there is a prequel?! I’ve brought it for my Kindle already, and also, there’s a sequel coming out?! I completely thought this was a standalone but now I am so so so excited for the sequel! 😀


      1. Yeees, there is a sequel coming out but it seems like it’s gonna be 2018! Thankfully the book ended pretty nicely so I’m not dying for the sequel, but it’d be SO interesting to see what else the characters do… if it’s about the same characters. Did you enjoy the prequel? 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh my god that’s so long to wait, we’re only halfway through 2016 now! But yeah at least Vicious didn’t end on a cliffhanger, god that would be unbearable! I’m assuming the sequel will be about Victor, Sydney and Mitch but I’m hoping Eli shows up as well!
        Oh yes, I really loved the prequel, I do wish it had been longer (mainly because I can’t get enough of V.E. Schwab’s work) but I thought it was a good story, and it was interesting seeing another EO too!


      3. I know! But time’s such a dilemma though – on one hand I want it to be 2018 already so I can read all the releases I want, but on the other hand OMG time why are you so fast. Maybe a time machine will solve this problem so then we can go back and forth. 😛

        Me too! I actually would love a whole book just on other EOs, like short stories of how they came to be and how their lives turn out after that. I think that’ll be interesting. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I know what you mean. It feels like ages to wait but honestly I’m surprised it’s June already. I feel like before we know it we’ll be halfway through 2017 and then it’ll be 2018 already!
        God I would kill for a time machine, or the ability to time travel, I’m not fussy which 🙂
        Yes, we saw a few of them in Vicious and hopefully there’ll be more in the second book (I think it’s called Vengeful right?) but I’d love more novellas with glimpses of their lives and their abilities. That’d be amazing! 😀


      5. I know, it surprises me too. I feel like the entire year of 2015 kind of passed me by – I’m not sure what I did or if I progressed in any sort of way as a human being? xD

        The title ‘Vengeful’ makes me wonder if it’s going to be from Eli’s perspective and him trying to, well, avenge himself. Whatever it is, though, I’m definitely reading it when it comes out. 😛

        Liked by 1 person

      6. At one point yesterday I thought for a second it was still 2015 so yeah I get where you’re coming from when you say last year seemed to pass you by! 😀
        Ehh, not much happened to me in 2015 so I didn’t really progress much as a human being XD
        God I would love to see more from Eli’s perspective, I kind of wonder if Vengeful will include a redemption arc for him which would be interesting to read I think (I’m sure it can be done!) I guess now it’s his turn to escape from prison though! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      7. I’d love that too! Redemption will be hard to make believable, I think, but it’ll be interesting to see how it’s done. Schwab can probably pull it off, haha – I feel like she can do amazing things with flawed characters. 😛

        Liked by 1 person

      8. I think if anyone can pull it off Schwab can! All the characters she’s written so far have been amazingly developed so in my mind there’s no reason to think if Eli does gets a redemption arc it will be anything less than expertly pulled off.
        I can’t wait to hear more about this book; a cover, a blurb, hell even a solid release date! 😀


      9. Oh god I know what you mean. Some of my other favourite authors release one book a year but then there’s V.E. Schwab who has released two this year already and is currently working on another one for early next year! I certainly wouldn’t be able to do it!


      10. Exactly, and there’s nothing in there (characters or small details) for no reason. Everything has a purpose even if you have to wait until the very end to realise what it is. Same here; insta-read, insta-buy, probably insta-love as well! 😀


    1. Thanks! I’m really glad you liked my review, and oh god yes I definitely loved this book! I don’t know why it took me so long to get around to reading it in the first place but it’s gone straight onto my favourites list with the rest of V.E. Schwab’s books! 😀


  5. This has been on my wishlist for such a long time, and your review made me wanna pick it up even more. It really sounds like an amazing read!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was on my wish list/to-read list for a long time before I picked it up as well and it was such a brilliant book, honestly I don’t know why it took me so long to get around to it! 🙂 I hope you can get around to it soon, and I really hope you love it as much as I did! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wonderful review! ❤ Vicious is one of my all time favourite books, so I'm very happy to see that you loved it as well! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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